Vijay Hazare Trophy: Services thrash Kerala by seven wickets to storm into semis

JAIPUR: Services put up an allround show to sail into the Vijay Hazare Trophy semi-finals with a facile seven-wicket win over Kerala at the K L Saini Stadium on Wednesday.
Chasing a paltry 176, Services cantered home in 30.5 overs with opener Ravi Chauhan top-scoring with a 90-ball 95 (13×4, 3×6) and skipper Rajat Paliwal making a 86-ball 65 (8×4).
Paliwal won the toss and sent Kerala in as their bowling department led by seasoned medium pacer Diwesh Pathania (8-2-19-3) rattled the Kerala top-order before bowling them out for a paltry 175 in 40.4 overs.
Later, Pulkit Narang (2/51), Abhishek Tiwari (2/33 from 7.4 overs) and Rahul Singh (1/35 from 9 overs) made their presence felt to polish off the tail.
Services were also brilliant on the field and ran out Rohan Kunnummal — the Kerala top-scorer — for 85 to restrict them to a below-par total.
The 32-year-old Pathania struck twice in the seventh over when he dismissed Mohammed Azharuddeen (7) and Jalaj Saxena (0) in successive balls to give them a perfect start.
It was Kerala’s rookie opener Kunnummal (85 from 106 balls; 7×4, 2×6) who kept them on the track with a resolute half-century, reaching his second List A fifty in 77 balls.
Kerala No 4 Vinoop Manoharan gave a fine support with a brisk 41 off 54 balls laced with four boundaries and one six as the duo put together a fine 80-run partnership for the third wicket to repair the early damage.
Just when they were looking to build on their starts, offspinner Pulkit Narang caught and bowled Vinoop Manoharan to break the partnership.
Narang also dismissed Sachin Baby (12), while Rahul Singh grabbed the prized scalp of Sanju Samson (2 off 8 balls) cheaply to send half of their wickets back to the pavillion inside 31 overs.
A misjudgment cost Kunnummal dear as he failed to notch his maiden List A century, while Tiwari polished off the tail with his wickets off successive deliveries.
Services had a jittery start when Lakhan Singh and Mumtaz Qadir got out in three deliveries in the second over to be on 12/2.

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